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Viriconium Paperback – Deckle Edge, October 25, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
The first, The Pastel City, can be taken as an extraordinarily well-wrought specimen of that class of bittersweet science-fiction tales about what Harrison here calls "the Evening Cultures" of humankind--those that come late in the history of the world and the race, when both are old, confused, tired . . . The bitter derives from the pervasive atmosphere in such tales of ending, of the morning and afternoon of life as but memories, of the same rue and futility as those of the old who feel their lives underlived yet slipping away as they watch; the sweet comes from the fact of actual living, of the reality of those human lives whose owners' appetites and deeds participate meagerly if at all in the race's larger melancholy. In this first venture at Viriconium, Harrison gives us an adequate but not striking plot and a well-wrought but not unique setting; but he also gives us rich characterizations and, above all, superb, jewel-perfect prose. He captures elegantly the late-autumn mood of the world he imagines. His protagonists do the needful things, some surprises occur, the book comes to an end; this one comes to what might be called a conventional, almost a traditional "happy" ending, in that, for all the pain and losses, those who survive have hopes, and futures that may contain those hopes.
By the second book--though it seems to proceed directly from the first, saving only a lapse of some decades--we have already a different form of book, one grown geometrically in many ways. The Pastel City, though almost poetic in tone, seems grounded in a readily discernible reality.Read more ›
In The Pastel City, the background of the Afternoon Cultures of Viriconium is laid down, and we are brought into the Evening Cultures beginning with the hero Methven Nian. Sensing a Dark Age, Methven put together the Order of Methven to fight against the wild Northern Tribes. Methven's brother, Methvel, married a northern princess and had a daughter named Canna Moidart. Methven himself had a daughter named Methvet, otherwise known as Queen Jane. When Methvel and Methven die, Moidart and Jane are pitted against each other in the War of Two Queens. Jane recruits the help of the remaining Order of Methven, including Tomb The Dwarf, Birkin Grif, and swordsman teagus-Cromis (my favorite character). Using resurrected machines and magicks from the Afternoon Cultures that were dug up from the Rust Desert and revitalized, Tomb and Cellur the Bird Lord find a way to resurrect warriors from the Afternoon Cultures called The Reborn. The Pastel City is the most lucid of the stories in Viriconium.
A Storm Of Wings introduces Galen Hornwrack, a dispossessed lordling who has long lived as an assassin and thief in the Low City. The Sign Of The Locust clouds Viriconium, so Queen Jane accepts the help of Tomb The Dwarf, Galen Hornwrack, Cellur, and Alstath Fulthor, Lord of The Reborn.Read more ›
Harrison's works are especially difficult to wrap one's mind around, but this may not always be the fault of the reader. While you are continually amazed by the depth and richness of the prose, the stories and characters seem remote and detached. The only installment that is truly accessible is the first Viriconium novel, "The Pastel City," which is deeper and more compelling than the standard fantasy quest that it appears to be on the surface. Unfortunately, the plots and characters fade into abstraction in the oppressively non-linear "A Storm of Wings" and the distractingly talky "In Viriconium.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Y'see, I'm not going to tell you that this book is for everyone. For instance, there are no pirates or ninjas in these stories. Read morePublished 25 minutes ago by Lawrence Hatez
This is the best fantasy novel that people aren't talking about. Physical copies can be hard to find in person, so order one or get the ebook version.Published 1 month ago by Samuel Marston
An omnibus containing three novels about the fictional city Viriconium, and the seven stories that make up the collection _Viriconium Nights_. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dan'l Danehy-Oakes
My mother read The Pastel City when she was 14 and told me it was her favorite book she'd had ever read. I think she read the copy that was sitting on my grandfather's bookshelf. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Luke A. Warren
Somehow I came to this collection of stories late. I'd seen it referenced repeatedly but never really bothered to look further. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
With broad strokes he paints a fascinating vision of the twilight age of humanities civilization. Somehow his simple characterizations instead of being shallow invite you to fill... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Finsch
This was the worst book I have ever read. And yes I read the whole thing. I am 50 years old and have loved sci/ fi and fantasy since I was a child. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Wendy Busby
Viriconium is one of those books that is a go to when I want to read something deep, dark, and off the beaten track. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Katie Burton